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Sailors ready to go fast in medal quest at 2023 GSSE

Maltese sailors have always done the country proud in GSSE history and this time around Team Malta is expected to feature prominently among the medal contenders in the various categories to be held at St Paul’s Bay.

Coach Zach Zammit said that the Maltese sailors have been going through a detailed training programme and the indications look very positive in both the optimist and ILCA classes.

“The past two-and-a-half years have been very busy for the Maltese national team,” he said.

“Numerous training camps were held in Malta and abroad with the assistance of both foreign and local coaches. The federation assisted with logistics and liaising with foreign coaches to ensure that at least every two months, a training clinic or camp was held.

“Moreover, the team attended numerous international regattas over these two years. Training camps for Optimist included assistance from Simone Ricci, coach of three-time world champion Marco Gradoni, while top Olympic coaches Goncalo Pereira de Carvalho and Adonis Bougiouris assisted the ILCA class.

“Sparring partners were also invited over to Malta during these training clinics and they provided our sailors a better challenge during training which helps their overall development.”

Zammit said that with the work carried out he is impressed by how far the Maltese sailors have gone in recent months.

“All the sailors have improved dramatically and the level compares well to our foreign counterparts. When sailors compete in foreign competitions abroad, such as World Championships and European Championships, our sailors are now often climbing on the podium and/or classifying in the top 10,” he said.

“The progress can also be seen in the day-to-day preparation – sailors are now committed more than ever. Sailors are either training or on the water almost every day after school.”

Asked whether the fact that the Games are being held in Malta might hinder the sailors’ performance at the Games, Zammit said: “Of course, there is added pressure, given that the Games are held in Malta.

“The sailors know that they are capable of getting results and we are also confident in their abilities to do so as we have seen them get such results on the international scene.

“Sport is a mental game as much as it is physical. The difference between the gold medalist at the Olympic Games and the person who comes in last place at the same Olympics usually boils down to mental capacity.

“Mental capacity and pressure is more influential in sailing since a race usually lasts between 40-50 minutes. A moment of inconsistency or lack of concentration can cause the sailor to make one mistake which ruins a perfect race without a chance to bounce back.

“This being said, I am hopeful that our team will put their heads down and do what they know best – sail fast.”

Zammit added that Cyprus will be Malta’s main rivals but he mentioned other obstacles our sailors have to face.

“Cyprus will definitely be our main competitor,” he said.

“They are the biggest team by far compared to the other GSSE countries participating – therefore, we expect a hard-fought battle with the Cypriots. Another challenge some of our sailors faced related to the balance between their formal education and sport.

“A number of sailors in the team are currently doing their O and A levels; some of them will also have to miss an exam to participate.

“This is surely not fair on our sailors and on any other athlete who is being called up to represent his country at such a prestigious event.

This fact also hindered the final preparations leading to the Games since they had to, unfortunately, reduce training time by a substantial margin at such a crucial moment of the preparations. More support from the educational departments is required if we expect our athletes to perform at a high level and achieve any form of result for club or country.”

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